Okehampton Town and Hamlets Neighbourhood Plan
When the Localism Act 2011 was passed, which gave the right to communities to make neighbourhood plans, the West Devon Borough Council Core Strategy had already been in existence for some time. More recently, the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan, adopted in March 2019, followed through on the housing developments proposed in the Core Strategy.
The hard fact is that an Okehampton Town and Hamlets Neighbourhood Plan would not be able to prevent the planned housing developments on the east side of Okehampton. Hearing how much frustration there is amongst local people surrounding these developments, it has been difficult to gain the wider public’s enthusiasm for a Neighbourhood Plan which will not really become effective until 2026.
Add to this the pressures which are outlined in national planning policy for local authorities to identify five year land banks, the limited number of local sites put forward and approved in a timely way, and it is easy to see how other planning applications to develop greenfield sites to the east of Okehampton could not be challenged. All of which has led to even more frustration.
So why is it important to have a Neighbourhood Plan? Because the future of the Town and Hamlets can be shaped by us. We can influence the type of housing to be built. We can support community build and affordable housing proposals. We can ask for building materials which reflect traditional local styles as well as requesting environmentally sustainable development. We can prioritise building on brownfield sites. We can advocate for future developments which address safe access, have sufficient parking spaces and maintain green spaces. We can support development which is fit for a future population where younger people can afford to live and where the older population are within walking distance of the town centre.